Jess Silver: Flexing for Access

As a fitness enthusiast and lover of all things sports, Jess Silver has been working out for over seven years. But there’s one detail you may not expect: she has cerebral palsy and currently uses a wheelchair to navigate through her life.

Silver was diagnosed with this physical challenge at birth, and it affects her ability to walk and carry out certain physical tasks independently. But with determination she has overcome the odds and has been getting stronger thanks to her fitness routine.

“I think that regardless of your demographic or your story, fitness is so important because it not only allows you to take charge of your physical self but it can also improve your mental health,” says Silver. “One of the most important things to know is that when you get started on a fitness journey, like I have, you don’t even realize at the beginning where that journey can take you.”

After seeing success with her own routine, Silver was inspired to raise awareness for cerebral palsy and change social perceptions around it. What started out as a social media campaign in 2015 has evolved into a non-profit organization for adaptive fitness and sport, called Flex for Access Inc. This organization is focused on allowing those with injuries or physical challenges to work out, improve their fitness and engage in sports.

Flex for Access Inc. partners with gyms, clinics, studios and instructors to allocate funding toward training sessions for those that have injuries or challenges, as well as working with affiliates to include adaptive fitness equipment in their gyms and studios using funding raised through the organization.

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“I love training at the gym, it’s totally changed my life and my ability to actually move and get stronger and [to] be able to do things on my own and [it has] also given me a new perception on life, so I wanted to give other people that [same] opportunity,” she says.

In her own workouts, Silver focuses on high-intensity training, which she does at the gym as well as every day at home. “We do a lot of core and balance exercises and then we also work on stability and mobility in standing,” she says. One of her favourite exercises is squats and she’s also been doing weight training.

With this drive to be the best version of herself, Silver has been able to overcome many of the challenges in her life, including bullying during her childhood. Though she does have cerebral palsy she won’t let it stand in her way — rather, she has used it as motivation to help others, re-educate those around her and inspire individuals through her own journey.

“I wanted to demonstrate to society that, yes, I may have a challenge, but I don’t allow that challenge [to define me] and I don’t want other people to be defined by their challenges,” says Silver.

Flex for Access Inc. will be hosting its upcoming fundraiser on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Visit the organization’s website for more details, to purchase tickets and to find out what you can do to help.

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